Photo from user BurgTender on Flickr

You’re relaxing on your patio, enjoying a cup of coffee or perhaps a glass of wine. The sun is shining and your flowers are fit to burst with bloom. You’re about to really settle in for a nice long chat with a friend when, bzzzzSLAP! An unwanted intruder has interrupted your plans, and you scurry back indoors, rubbing your leg as you go.

If you’ve ever had a lovely moment outdoors ruined by persistent, joy-killing mosquitos, you understand the desire to rid your property of them once and for all. The good news is, by taking certain safe precautions, you don’t have to let these disease-spreading pests ruin your backyard environment.

Maintain Your Yard

Your average mosquito likes nothing better than seeing a nice pool of stagnant water in which to lay roughly a zillion mosquito larvae. Mosquitos aren’t picky, so even if you don’t have a pond or a swamp nearby, places such as rain-filled trashcans and flowerpots — and even driveway puddles — work just as well. Eliminating these breeding homes won’t make mosquitos disappear entirely, but it’ll reduce the population.

Also, don’t let the temptation to let your lawn grow one more week override your sense of homeownerly duty. Why? Because just like stagnant pools of water, mosquitos love to hide in tall grass as well as untrimmed shrubs.

Make Use of Citronella and Essential Oils

If you’re like many chemically-wary adults, you probably don’t enjoy lathering up in a thick coat of bug spray. Although essential oils admittedly aren’t as effective as a healthy spritz of bug spray, citronella candles do provide a few feet of relief. Try placing a sturdy, fireproof container beneath your table to trap the heat and odor — just be sure not to kick it over accidentally. You can also try burning a plain candle with a few drops of essential oils added; lavender, lemon and eucalyptus are effective mosquito-repellers.

Screens, Lighting and Air Flow

In addition to oils and lawn maintenance, you can also try adding a screen to your porch roof as well as yellow-shaded bulbs to outdoor light fixtures. You can also install an outdoor fan; circulating air is difficult for a mosquito to fly through. To be truly effective, however, screens should be hole-free and kept in the down position all the time.

A Serious Solution

For more serious mosquito problems, try a propane-fueled mosquito trap. Safe for the environment, the mosquito trap uses carbon dioxide to lure the little buggers into a net, which you must clean or replace regularly. Although mosquito traps are costlier to purchase and maintain than other solutions, they are very effective.

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